It's not about the house.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Prayer for Our Meany

Johnny's decided to give up smoking for Lent.

Would it be sacriligious of me to take bets on how long he's gonna last?

He's really not drunk here, it's just a bad picture. And he didn't get knobbed with a billiard ball, either. For those non-(lapsed or otherwise) Catholics among you: those are ashes.

But seriously, folks: I might be willing to send a Very Special Toy Prize to the person who guesses closest to the day he gives it up.

Caveat #1 being that I am going away tomorrow (Thursday, the 26th) and coming home on Sunday (the 1st), so I won't know if he breaks down while I'm away.

And caveat #2 being that our St. Patrick's Day party happens to fall right on his birthday this year (March 14th), and if he and his god are okay with him cheating on that occasion, then lord knows it's alright with me...

So let's play!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Johnny After Zinsser

This is a sensitive subject.

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while may remember that we’ve been re-doing our kitchen. Or you may not, seeing as how we’ve been re-doing it for nigh on thirteen months. And technically, “we’ve been” and “re-doing” ought to be in quotes, since we haven’t been really doing much of anything for quite a while.

I can’t remember anymore when progress ground to a halt. Timewise, I mean. What month was it when we decided that taped drywall and exposed wiring was the look we were after? July? August? Something like that, probably, I don’t know. In two words, however, I can tell you why:

Range hood.

See, we did the first half – the functional half – of the kitchen a couple years ago after the stove exploded. We got a new sink put in and moved over, the gas line run in for the big new stove, we got a new countertop, a slightly used dishwasher, and a moderately useful number of new cabinets put in – all of this along a single, outside wall. And then we had a drink and forgot to turn around and deal with the rest of the room. For I-don’t-remember-anymore-how-many years, we lived with a kitchen that was half spanking new and half ass-whuppingly old – and when I say half, I do mean half. It was quite literally sawzalled down the middle. Oh heck, if you’re interested you can read the entire saga here. And here and here. And here.

And here.

(There are more, but if you've read all of those already, you can probably find the rest of them yourselves. Suffice to say that It Was Epic.)

The one thing we never got around to doing on that spanking-new side, however, was the range hood – and I don’t know if we ever even had a reason why. Just not immediately necessary, maybe? In the sense that you have to have a stove, a sink, and a machine your husband will refuse to use to wash the dishes, but the worst thing that happens if you don’t have a range hood is that every time you crawl up on a chair to get the soup tureen off the top of the cabinet because company is coming and it’s the best serving dish you have because it lives up on top of the cabinet where Destructo can’t get at it, you find yourself up to your thumb-knuckles in greasy dust. Which, I mean, eh – how many times do you use the soup tureen in I-don’t-remember-how-many years, anyway? Four? Five? Big freakin’ whoop.

Last winter, though (as in 2007), my sister gave me a soap dispenser thing for Christmas. It was fancy, it was ass expensive (I’m not supposed to know that, but when I googled for a picture of it to post here I accidentally saw the price. I think I lied and told her that I didn’t, but I did. And let me tell you: it was ass expensive), and it put the disassociative identity of the room to shame. So we resolved to finish the damn thing already . You can read about the start of that phase here and here. And here and here. And here. Etc.

(We’re epic folks, what can I say?)

Anyway, after a while I stopped writing about it, because after a while I stopped being amused. Fights – huge, screaming, neighborhood-involving fights – over things as insignificant as where the fridge was going to go (“Why does it even matter?” I asked everyone involved. “Well, because it needs its own plug on its own breaker, naturally. So you have to decide where it goes, then never move it.” “But, okay, but, that’s never been the case before. I mean, it’s plugged in now on a three-pronged adaptor, and until we started this kitchen project the entire house was on a single breaker, so…” But I let it go. What do I care where the fridge is, anyway? And if they want to put it on a separate breaker, whoop-de-do. I would like to point out, however, that – now that we are actually, finally, close to finished – the only plug left in the kitchen not hooked up is that one. And nobody seems to think it’s a big deal. “It’s plugged in now on a three-pronged adaptor,” they tell me, “so…” These are just a few of the many reasons why I drink.). But still, we were trucking along. More tortoise than hare, but trucking in a decidedly forward motion nonetheless—

And then we ran up against the range hood.

Here’s what happened: Johnny and I bought the thing together. There’s nothing wrong with the thing we bought. It's kind of neat, in fact, ‘cuz it’s adaptable (maybe they all are, but how would I know?): you can punch out the square metal piece in the back and vent your fan directly through the wall; or you can punch out the round metal piece on top and vent it through the overhead cabinet and around. Neato. But I don’t think we’d even considered which was the right way to go with it, before someone who was trying to be helpful (someone who doesn’t live here) punched the square piece out. And then someone else (someone who does live here, but I’m not saying who) threw it away.

Okay, fine, it was me. But how was I supposed to know there was a wall stud right there where the back-vent had to go? All I knew was I was sick of looking at all this construction shit lying around.

We couldn’t return the range hood with that piece missing – especially since months had passed since we purchased it and of course I threw out the receipt (shut it, you). And we couldn’t vent it through the round hole on top and leave a big square hole in the back. And we couldn’t chop a piece out of that stud. We could, in retrospect, have sucked it up and bought a whole new hood – it only cost something like $80, after all – but instead what we decided to do was abandon the project all together and spend the next six months cooking amid bare drywall and exposed wires. And, not incidentally, simmering with rage.

That last was also me.

Once every week or so Johnny would get up on a ladder, sand some joint compound, put up a piece of tape, and scratch his balls. When people came over he’d ask them to admire the progress he’d made. They would, making appropriately impressed noises, and then when he went to the bathroom they'd ask me to point it out. I couldn’t. “Oh, can’t you tell? That white line over by the corner used to be much rougher than it is now. See? We’re getting close!”

It all came to a head a couple weeks ago. I don’t remember what the fight was purporting to be about, or how it started, but I wound up playing the kitchen card. “Maybe,” I shouted, “instead of spending all day, every day, making pots and pots of freaking soup, you could finish the kitchen once and for all! Get it painted at least, for crying out loud! It’s been fourteen months!”

(It had actually been thirteen months at that point. I tend to exaggerate small facts like that when I fight, but only ever by a similarly insignificant amount. I don’t know why I do it. It only ever undermines my entire argument when he calls me on it. Which he always does. You’d think I’d learn.)

Lo and behold, though, about a week after that conversation (that very loud and shouty conversation), something lit a fire under Johnny’s ass. I don’t know if it was what I said that did it – and believe me when I tell you I’m not stupid enough to ask – but I came home from work the other day to find him stoned out of his gourd on Zinsser and carrying on an unintelligible conversation with himself:

(After I shut the camera off and went in the office to download the video, I heard Johnny in the kitchen shouting "Fuck me! I'm brain-damaged!" And then he blew the biggest raspberry I've ever heard.)

It's painted now, a very cheery yellow. First coat only, because we’re depending on some other people at this point to tuck in the last few steps – electrician to hang the ceiling fan, duct guy to jury-rig the fucking hood, etc. – and Johnny doesn't want to second-coat until they're done. But it’s happening. Johnny says it will be ready for Patrick’s Day. He even says that -- while I'm at One Friend's next weekend -- he’s going to sand and paint the floor.

Of course, we got in another knock-down, drag-out yesterday. About something else completely.

So we’ll see.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Johnny and I got married on a Friday the 13th. Not on purpose or anything, it just turned out that way. We were going to do it on Friday the 6th, but the rings didn’t come in time.

I guess you could say we eloped, although I’ve never used that word and it sounds weird when other people say it about what we did. To me, “eloping” means the boy comes and puts a ladder under your window and you climb down without waking up your parents, and then you two go together somewhere really far away – like Mexico, or Detroit. It means planning ahead, keeping a secret, following through. None of which, as I think should be obvious by now, are things at which Johnny and I particularly excel.

So I usually just say we got married at City Hall.

We did it when we did because Johnny’s mother died (on December 8th, 2005 – the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s death; this was meaningful to Johnny) and I could see when he came home from the funeral that he was drifting. Rootless. Like a balloon without a string. So – after swearing my entire life I’d never do it, and after years of turning down his increasingly lackadaisical proposals – I decided to become his wife in order so that I could be that string for him. To touch him down. To ground him. Give him cold, hard proof at last that he and I were family. That he wasn’t all alone. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever given anyone, if I do say so myself, and I’ve never regretted it. I want to punch him in the nuts sometimes – especially when he gets all smug about telling people I proposed to him – but that’s a temporary feeling, and it passes.

Anyway, I didn’t exactly “propose” to him in the traditional sense of the word – and, if I’m being honest here, he never actually “proposed” to me. What I said that January was along the same lines of what he’d said to me a thousand times, which was, essentially: “Do you think you might want to married?” He said “Yeah,” and that was it. The whole conversation had the feel of deciding what to eat for dinner.

We’d been living together for almost ten years by then, and I felt in my heart that having a capital-W Wedding would be ridiculous. (Which does not in any way imply that you shouldn’t have one, or that the one you had was absurd. Yours was – or will be – lovely. Really. With the white doves and the horse drawn carriages and everything? Really capital-L Lovely. Not ridiculous at all. But …) We’d been together long enough that not only had we started having sex already, we had also all but stopped. I think, legally, that meant we were already man and wife, and it just seemed silly to go through the white-dress motions.

(Now – and I’m being serious here – I really do not care about any correlation between the state of your hymen and the color of your dress. I only mean I didn’t want to do it, and the gratuitous sex joke was just for an easy laugh.)

Anyway, the fact we didn’t tell anyone about our plans was incidental, and it honestly boiled down to the slippery slope: as soon as you tell one person, we figured, you have for all intents and purposes decided to not tell the rest, and an invisible line has automatically been drawn dividing everyone you know.

I knew I couldn’t tell my folks without inviting my siblings. And my siblings have spouses (plus, at the time, one kid). And if my brother- and sister-in-law are going to be there, well, how could I leave out my bestest friend? And if I get to bring a friend, why shouldn’t Johnny? And what about his siblings? They’re all in Ireland, but we can’t do this and make it just about my family, after all…

In the end we left everybody out so no one would feel specifically abandoned – see? It makes sense. It didn’t work, of course. People were pissed. But I digress.

Massachusetts has a three-day waiting period: once you get your marriage license, you have to wait at least 72 hours before getting hitched (guns and marriages: so you don't do anything in the heat of the moment you might find yourself regretting when you sober up). But Johnny and I didn’t feel like having to do two completely separate things (see the “planning and following through” comment above), so we decided ro go to Maine. They don’t have a waiting period in Maine, and it just so happens that my parents have a place up there. As much as we'd decided not to tell anyone before we did it, it was important to me that my parents be the first ones we told after.

So we decided it would be a Friday. That way we could make a pretend excuse to see the Fossils (i.e., my folks) for the weekend, we could leave work early, get hitched at Wells Town Hall (right off I95, which is the exit you take to get to the Fossils, anyway), and be there to tell them in person less than an hour after the dirty deed was done.

For some reason – as much as I didn’t give a hoo about the pomp and circumstance – it was important to me that we have rings. “Yeah, naturally,” Johnny said when I told him, and he knew just the place. The jeweler that changes the battery on his pocket watch. In Quincy, where we used to live, right by The Irish Bar.

(That’s its real name, by the way: The Irish Bar. It’s not a euphemism.)

We had to go together to get our fingers measured, and we couldn’t do that during the hours they were open until we had the same day off: Tuesday (as it happened), January 3rd. But we sort of accidentally stopped off at the Irish for a couple first. And by the time we dashed over to the jeweler’s it was so close to closing that they couldn’t put the order in until tomorrow. Wednesday morning. And it would take three business days to fill the order. So we could not be wed on Friday after all.

Whatever. We’d do it next week, then. Same dif.

The week passed and I picked up the rings. I made plans with my parents, went to work. Then Friday rolled around and – in the early hours, while we were organizing with each other how we’d meet up in the city for the drive – I looked at the Weather Channel to gauge what to expect for our commute (it was January in New England, after all; you never know). And that’s when I saw, at the bottom of the screen, the date:

Friday, January 13, 2006.

“Johnny!” I hollered (I can’t remember, but I think he might have been in the bog).

“Yeah? What?” he hollered back.

“It’s Friday the 13th!”


“Are you sure you still want to do this? Should we wait?”

Johnny’s an Irishman, you understand. Most of you know. But what you might not fully comprehend is that an Irishman (or at least my Irishman) literally cannot spill salt without shaking it over his shoulder. Physically can’t walk under a ladder. And God help you if you put a hat down on a bed. It’s like – you know how, in a completely empty, thousand-space parking lot, you still feel obliged to fit your car between the painted lines? That’s how ingrained the magic is for him. And so naturally I felt obliged to check.

“Bollocks!” he said. “Wait for what?”

And so we went.

This post is long enough already, so some other time I will tell you about the actual ceremony (or, I should say, “ceremony”). I’ll tell you later about how the ladies at the Wells Town Hall were surprised at how little of a shit we gave. About how I wrote his wrong SS# on the form and had to run back in to change it, lest I wind up legally married to someone I don’t even know. About how we stopped off for a celebratory beer on the way to the Fossils, and how the place we chose turned out to be an OTB. About how we broke the news by handing M&D our marriage certificate, and how they assumed (before they managed to find their eyeglasses) that we were trying to tell them someone else had died. About how we called the entire family that night to break the news, and how my brother (who was the first to use the word “elope”) said he never imagined I would actually have the balls.

No. No, no. I’ll tell you all that garbage some other time.

For now, what I’ve been trying to get at through all these thousands of words is this: Johnny and I decided, because of all the folderol, that we would turn every Friday the 13th into a celebration. Not an anniversary, exactly, but just a just-because. Just because we’re idiots. Just because we suck. Just because we were together for ten years before we bothered to get married, so we’ve got a little making-up to do. And we have. We call it our “Thirteenth-iversary,” and what we mostly do on it is get drunk and listen to music and talk about what jackasses we can be. Which, to be perfectly honest, isn’t all that much different than what we do on most other Friday nights.

But as it’s turned out (and as I’m sure is truly difficult to imagine), it’s been a bit embarrassing. Because we told a few people about our 13th-saries, and some folks have been kind enough to send cards and things over the years. That is really kind and caring of people, but it was never our intent. It was only ever just a silly little notion. Johnny and I trying to take a blackguard thing and make it white, as it were. Because we, generally, have a stellar knack for doing just the opposite.

So what I want to say on this 13th, on the eve of stupid Valentine’s Day and in the spirit of making the blackguard white and all, is that along the way something surprising's happened: Being legally wed to Johnny – for all the "he's floating without a tether" crap that inspired my proposal? – in the end, well...

It seems to have gone and grounded me.

I wrote this yesterday but, what with all the drinking and listening to music, I forgot to post. I could just save it till next month, when another 13th-sary will roll around, but since it's Valentine's today I decided to go ahead.

So Happy 13th/VD, Johnny my love!

As long as we've got our roll of toilet paper handy, we'll be fine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Mom Memed Me!

(Okay, it's not really a meme. I just liked the way it sounds. So Su me.)

While I was off in la-la-land, taking a mental vacation from this blog and its bottomless lust for wit and poi jokes (ha! that was supposed to say "poo jokes" but I like it. I think I should find more opportunities to make jokes about poi. After all, it is made with nine pounds of the finest ingredaments), my mom tagged me on her blog to play a game. The rules of which call for one to go into one's fourth photo folder, post the fourth picture one finds there, and write about it. Now, I don't usually perpetuate these sorts of things, but this came from my mom. And a girl has gotta do what her mother tells her, she's just gotta. Otherwise she's bound to wind up on the internets making poo jokes about poi.

So here goes:

Well, see, the problem is that most people probably take pictures of, you know, stuff. Life. Things they do. Places they go. People they see and maybe even love. Me, I use my camera only for the purpose of this blog. I never in my life took pictures of anything before I started writing here. Seriously. We went to Istanbul for two weeks and I have one picture of one guy in the basement of one bar. I just don't like grinding moments to a halt trying to catch them. And now that I have this big fancy camera, I still don't ever aim it at anything but poo and wine and Johnny and the like, for the purpose of sharing those things with you here.

You're welcome.

So the point is, whatever I find in that fourth folder is guranteed to be something I've posted here before. The added, suspenseful twist, however, is that my computer seems to be spontaneously erasing picture folders. I don't know if they're only allowed to stay so long, or if I'm only allowed to have so many, or what it's all about, but whenever I go to call up an old picture, I discover more and more old ones aren't there. In which case I suppose it's good that I'm not recording things I care about. But I can't help thinking it's like my computer and I are growing old together, dropping the detritus of our existence as we go along. Like city lights receding, man, I swear to god.

Therefore, what I'm getting at is this: the fourth folder in my file ought to be from April 2007 or so, and it ought to have images of, I don't know, some stupid crap around the house. But instead what I found is from late June of that same year, and the image is of this:

Some stupid crap around the house.

That's my laundry room (yes! really! I know it doesn't look it, but it is!). I took this pictre with my old camera, back when I was still doing stuff to the AssVac and writing about it. I don't do things anymore. Hell, I barely write anymore -- at least as far as you poor people are concerned -- but if you want to read about what I was doing then, feel free to follow that link back there and poke around.

I'm sorry, Meme, if I'm not playing by the rules exactly, but I simply must be finished with this now. Just thinking about it all has given me a headache, so I've got to take my poi and go lie down.

Come, Poi!

Coming, Prudence!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Who Pooped in the Peanut Butter?

This post isn't about poop in the peanut butter at all. I just used that phrase in conversation the other day and have been looking ever since for an excuse to use it here. Couldn't think of one, and then remembered that gratuitous poop references are not exactly unheard of here at The House and I, so there you go.

Part of the reason I haven’t written much these days is that life hasn’t been handing me any decent punchlines. By which I don’t mean to imply that I’m depressed or anything, it’s just that those magically absurd moments I usually use to zing a piece back home just haven't happened. I’ll give you an example:

The hated Chuck (TFT) has been leaking power steering fluid. For a couple months now. I can’t afford to get him fixed – and I figure the worst that happens if his power steering blows for good is that I get a complete upper body workout every time I run out for a quart of milk – so I’ve just been tossing bottles down his gullet in a quixotic attempt to silence that infernal squealing.

Huh. Maybe I would make a good mother, after all. Except when the kid squeals you can't whack it on the dashboard and tell it this is why you never wanted it in the first place. So maybe not.

It isn't as bad as it sounds. I only go through about a bottle a week, and I think they're only like a pint or so a piece. Hang on, I'll check... nope: a cup and a half. See? That's even better (oh, and the Stop Leak brand doesn’t, by the way, in case you’re wondering). Plus I don’t even pour it in there all at once. I pour a little at a time, just enough to stop the screaming, and only on the days I plan to actually drive. Because a cup and a half a week is still a cup and a half a week, and I don't want to end up with a poisonous lake of the viscous stuff in my driveway (such as it is) come spring. Because who needs to explain a thing like that to the owners of dogs and children that visit in the summertime and run around my yard?

So instead, every single time I start my car I have to pop the hood and pour some fluid in. Got some on my glove the other day, too. Now it’s all over the dashboard, window, radio controls – you’d be surprised how many things a person can manage to touch with a single finger in a single five-minute car ride. Not to mention, on the subsequent mile-long walk in freezing weather, one's eyes and ears. And, yes okay, runny nose.

I’ve got it all down to a science now. I mete out a wee bit in the morning, drive Chuck (TFT) to the parking area, and let him piddle most of it out on public property all day while I walk and ride to work, and then ride and walk back to him again. By the time we’re driving home at the end of the day, he’s almost piddled out, and we start the whole thing over in the morning.

I know this sounds terribly unvironmental (yup, I made it up), and although if you gave me a few minutes I'm sure I could come up with a bunch of ways to excuse my behavior, I just won't. Because the fact is: I don’t care. There came a point ages ago when the whole notion of environmentalism became a rich man's game, a socially acceptable way of judging other people -- especially uneducated people who can't afford things -- and that's why it's a game that I refuse to play. Well, that, plus the lazy and cold-hearted thing. Screw polar bears!

(I will point out, however, in case it might make anyone else feel better, that I have never once, in my entire life, used air conditioning inside my home.) (Technically, that isn't true. There was that one sludge-pit apartment in South Boston. But that was just one room, for just one summer.) (And the window unit was a gift; it wasn't my idea.) (Plus the reason it was a gift is that we really, truly, honestly couldn’t breathe.) (Which may have been just because it was, you know, South Boston.) (But I digress…)

Meanwhile, I have never been the most particular about keeping my car clean to begin with, and now the inside of the truck is a veritable graveyard of spent STP bottles. Every morning I have to crawl around the back and shake them until I find one that has something in it. And you might think this would be a good time for me to go ahead and throw the old ones out, but … nah.

The worst is when I’m driving along and a rogue empty decides to pop up and say hello to my feet. I don’t know if the little buggers get cold or if the empty Dunkin’ Donuts bags and Baked Lay’s wrappers are just dreary company, but it happens all the time. And although I’ve been fortunate so far to have not yet had the experience of coming sole to bottle when I’m reaching for the brake, it’s not what I’d call exactly fun to grope around under the steering wheel while simultaneously trying to maneuver over a bridge and into rotary traffic. It’s like trying to change into your pyjamas while you're still brushing your teeth, only with much better odds of injuring someone besides yourself in the process.

What? You don’t you do that? It's only me, then? Huh…

Anyway, so here is where the punchline should come in. Here’s where I ought to tell you that today I actually did get in an accident, or that something else equally afunny happened. I finally cleaned Chuck (TFT), say, and when I did I found enough loose change in there to fix the problem. Or our mechanic friend George came by and did it for nothing, in exchange for me promising to never mention his name on this blog again. Or I heard on the news that it wasn’t poop in the peanut butter after all, but rather a massive case of power-steering-fluid poisoning, and that they’re this close to zeroing in on the source. But none of those things happened.

With this, then -- along with myriad other ho-hum and punchless lines that I've been living -- I've just been carrying on my rank routine and waiting for some sort of shoe to drop that might make the whole thing at least marginally entertaining to someone besides me. Or including me, for that matter. But so far, as Yukon Cornelius used to say: nuttin'.

Except for the poop in the peanut butter thing. That shit was pretty rich.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Oh my god, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you this! Or, actually, it happened when I wasn’t writing (here) so it’s not that I forgot to tell you, I just didn’t. But whatever. Anyway…

On Inauguration Day, Andy came over (remember Andy?). He didn’t come because of the Inauguration – in fact, it’s entirely possible he didn’t even know it was that day, and not because of the usual reason, either. You see, Andy’s quit drinking.

Are you okay? Are you with me? Yeah, it’s true.

So on Inauguration Day Andy just happened to be here spending the night, and he brought ingredients with him to cook dinner for us all. He does this when he comes over. And while it’s nice – while he means it as a thank-you for the hospitality and everything – it always makes me feel a little awkward. After all, if he cooks and cleans up after himself, then the only hospitality I’m offering is the bed (on which he very rarely actually gets under the covers, anyway), so what exactly is he thanking us for? It feels weird, sitting in your own kitchen, watching somebody cook, especially when they’re doing it all wrong.

(Not wrong, really. Not in a bad way. Just, well: I cut my carrots on an angle, he cuts his flat. I cook my rice in the steamer, he boils his. He doesn’t know we got a special thing for juicing lemons from my mom for Christmas, so he uses a fork. Ungrateful horrid wretch that I am, it’s all I can do not to jump up and holler “Give me that! I’ll do it!”)

(I’m sorry, Andy, if you’ re out there. I love you and want you to come over all the time. But carrots taste different if you cut them flat. They just do. And also? Plaid is itchy. I’m just saying.)

This night, though, it was bizarre. It was Inauguration Day (as I’ve said twice already), so Johnny and I were both well into our cups before he got here. At three in the afternoon. We felt strange being drunk in front of Sober Andy, but he kept telling us it was okay, we’d been sober in front of Drunk Him a bunch of times, he didn’t mind. So we kept drinking.

Needless to say, we missed watching the balls. By the time the sun went down, Johnny had wandered off to the pub alone to nyeah-nyeah in the faces of all the lovely local boys who’d been referring to our new President for the past year and a half as “Johnny’s N-word” (only they didn’t say “N-word”), and I was squinting and concentrating and doing my best to play cribbage with Andy.

Here’s a hint: if you can’t count to fifteen, you’ve probably got no business playing cribbage.

But before he set to skunking me, Andy'd been in the kitchen making a lovely dinner of Chicken Something, Asparagus Maybe, and Rice I Think. By the time it was ready, I was at the point I didn’t want to eat because it would only interfere with my McDrunkitude, but he was sober and kind enough to insist that I give it a shot. So I ate asparagus with my fingers – Miss Manners would say that’s okay, even sober (and man, there’s a girl you don’t want to see drunk) – I skipped the rice, and I sort of shredded the chicken with a pair of forks, but at least some sort of sustenance got in me.

Then, naturally, I passed right out.

Well, not passed out. That’s not fair. Eating made me realize I was tired, so I put on my pjs and I brushed my teeth and everything. But the germane of it is (and yes, I do believe I made up that word in this context, but I don’t care; you may hate it, steal it, use it, vilify it or normalify it as you will; just be sure to credit me in the 2050 OED): I went to bed and left Andy alone watching television in our living room.

What happened next, from my perspective, was the following: 

· I got up to pee in the middle of the night. When I stood up from bed it felt as though my head stayed where it was, passing right through my body as it moved. Chalking this up to the drink, I went and peed and wiped and flushed (who washes in the middle of the night? especially when they’re drunk and their head’s still floating somewhere in the vicinity of the mattress?) and lay back down. I dreamed that I slept for a day and a half, waking up on Thursday evening to find that nobody noticed I was gone. Then I was shaken awake by Johnny, frantically asking me if I was okay.

What happened next, from Andy’s perspective, was this: 

· Johnny came home, agitated because he’d heard the n-word a bunch of times up at the pub and he (on his wife’s orders) is not allowed to hit anybody anymore. He, too, refused to eat dinner (poor sober Andy), but he put the kettle on and made himself a cup of tea. Then he watched The Golden Compass on demand – with Andy – for a while, until he, too, passed out. Really, this time. On the couch. With his shoes on. So Andy went to bed.

And what happened, from Johnny’s view, was along the lines of: 

· Those fuckers at the bar are a bunch of assholes dammit but what the hell why am I wearing boots and cacks this tea is cold but hang on a second why does the whole house smells like gas better try to stumble to the kitchen and holy crap a burner’s been left on but not burning so shut if off and oh my god go quick and shake your wife. She’s okay thank fucking god I better check on Andy he is snoring and obviously alive so there’s no need to wake him I’ll just open up some windows and go back to bed.

I (this is me again – me, EGE) bolted awake a half an hour later, shivering and thinking Holy Crap, the cats! But they were okay, too, and the house didn’t smell like gas anymore, so I closed the windows and cranked up the heat.

Nobody knows whose fault it was. Well, really it was our fault, me and Johnny's, for celebrating the change we want to see in the universe a little too rambunctiously. But what I mean is: nobody knows who left the burner on, Johnny or Andy. I don’t think Andy even knows it happened, he was all snug in the cozy guest room the whole time, and Johnny has officially taken the blame. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s okay, and the AssVac did not explode.

God damn it.

The one time Johnny doesn’t wake up reaching for a smoke!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

For Fab 5 Freddy?

I've had this keyboard for less than a year -- less than six months, maybe -- and look what I've managed to do to it already:

Why do you suppose that letter, in particular, got all worn out?

(Oh, and before you ask: Yes, I appear to have a hair across my space bar. Don't know what's up with that. Didn't see it before I took the picture, don't see it now. Think it might be a ghost hair. Woooooo...)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not So Salty, Dog!

I eat a lot of salt. I mean, a lot of salt. People are always appalled at how much I’m shaking on my food, but I find I just can’t taste it until my plate looks like a little snow-capped mountain range. I am that rude person who sits down to the gourmet meal you spent hours preparing and peppers it (so to speak) with salt before putting even one bite in my mouth. I know. I’m sorry. I try to remember not to do it, but it’s like trying not to use certain words in front of children: it’s just a habit, it just happens, and before I even close my mouth people are exchanging disappointed looks across the room.

Now, I don’t have high blood pressure. If I did, I might think twice about reaching for the shaker – just like, if I had kids, I might think twice about dropping the bigger bombs. Johnny does – have high blood pressure, that is – but I figure that’s his problem. He can worry about the levels of salt in his own soup just like parents can worry about the levels of it in their own language (and I’m going to drop that analogy right here before I get myself in any (more) trouble with the Mommy Brigade).

The way I’ve come to figure it is this: I eat so much salt, and I’ve always been at least somewhat overweight, yet my blood pressure has always been, if anything, a little low. Plus I’m almost forty. So maybe it’s just not going to happen, but if the day should ever come that I begin popping elevated numbers, there ought to be no need for medication. Just cut back on the white stuff and voila! C’est healthy me!

Of course, it’s not like I haven’t resolved once in a while over the years to cut back anyway – if for no other reason than because I felt I should – but I only ever got as far as the first bite of the first boiled egg I had for breakfast on the first day before I quit. Or the first skinless chicken breast. The first broccoli floret. Whatever. I gag down a single bite, say “To hell with this!,” and make a mad dash for the Morton’s. So maybe, if my blood pressure ever does decide to spike, I’ll just have to learn to love gin blossoms and panic attacks. Or else, you know, suck it up and take a stupid pill.

(Ooh, and while we’re on the subject? Fancy salt is nothing but snobby marketing hype aimed at gullible people looking for something new to feel superior about. There, I said it. I mean, for crying out loud! It’s bad enough you want me to believe I’ll go to hell because I can’t afford organic vegetables (which are also, by the way, a load of hoo), or that Johnny’s going to burn for all eternity because his chicken didn’t get to see the sun before they chopped its head off, ripped its entrails out and shoved them up its ass. I didn’t even so much mind when you told me my flour and my rice had to be brown, I actually like them that way. But now you’re fucking with my iconic, two-for-a-dollar, when it rains it pours, navy blue box? You want me to bring in a selection of minerals in every color of the rainbow, sun-dried by indigenous (but assuredly well-paid) artisans on distant coasts I've never heard of, and pay anywhere from seventeen to sixty-five dollars a pound? No. No, no. No. I’m crying foul. And if that means I’ll go to hell, well, all right then, I'll go to hell.)

(Oh, and also: soy sauce is salty because they add salt to it, it is no more natural or healthy than skipping the middle man and adding it yourself. And, although it has nothing whatsoever to do with what we’re talking about, I'd also like to get this off my chest: agave nectar is a simple sugar refined from botanical juices – just like, ahem, corn syrup. There, I’m done.)

No, really, I don’t have high blood pressure. Why do you ask?

Anyway, all of this is on my mind because over the past year I’ve seen the effects of what high blood pressure can do. I never realized this before, but it really isn’t just a question of how red your face gets when you’re mad. Chronic hypertension can shut your kidneys down. It can explode your heart. It can even – and not in a good way, either – swell your brain.


So now I’m all paranoid. Because, see, when I die (if it happens, which I’m still not entirely convinced it will), I want to go down shouting. I want to get shot in the face by Dick Cheney, run over by Laura Bush, or abandoned in a sinking car by Teddy Kennedy. I want to get my scarf caught in the axle, go down in a biplane with the Big Bopper, or collapse on stage and have everybody think it’s all a joke. I want to come a cropper in a mutinous attack, get eaten by cannibals, disappear in the Bermuda Triangle. I don’t want to just fizzle out in the middle of a sentence: “Honey, could you please pass the—pfft.”

And I know it may seem strange to worry about these things when I consistently measure a cool 110/75 or so. But what if my blood pressure is supposed to be 100/60 like it was in high school? What if, for me, 110/75 is actually high? What if I have been damaging myself with all that Morton’s all these years? (Not to mention: what if I’m really a size two? What if these hips aren’t really hips at all? What if I’ve just been retaining a pair of water balloons on my haunches for thirty years?)

So I think I’ll try again. In fact, I already did, with a bowl of Johnny’s soup this afternoon. He makes soup all the time and never puts so much as a pinch of salt in the whole pot, so I end up adding practically a teaspoon to every bowl. But I forwent the shaker this time like a good girl – only to discover he’d tossed in an envelope of these Chinese noodles that’ve been kicking around here for a while, which happen to be loaded with m.s.g. That soup was plenty salty, thank you, even without my little touch o' love. In fact, if I’d salted it without tasting like I usually do, it would have been inedible, even for me.

There, you see? I may not be succeeding quite yet, but I’m learning. And I may have accidentally stumbled upon a cure. Next time you have someone like me coming to your house for dinner, just put a load of m.s.g. in her food. She’ll shake-shake-shake away before she takes her first bite, and then she won’t ever, ever, ever salt before she tastes her food again.

But if I were you, I'd send the kids to bed before you try it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Maybe I'll Find Johnny Depp in There

My bed was really low this morning. I needed crampons to crawl my way up out of it -- which, on bare feet, let me tell you: ouch.

Also, now I think there's like a vacuum in there or something. Every time I go anywhere near the bedroom it tries to suction me back in.

It's evil. I can't fight it.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

About Three Bricks Shy of a Load

I'm rooting for the Steelers today, and I'll tell you why:

#5 reason: I don't have a dog in this fight. Cardinals? Steelers? Who gives a shit? But I have to pick someone, so...

#4: I don't hate the Steelers. I don't actually know if I'm supposed to, as a Pats fan, but I don't. Something in me sees a kindred opposite in them. Their glory days were as reckless and freewheeling as ours have been head-down and studious, and there's a very large part of beer-drinking me that salutes that.

#3: I like watching a record happen -- as long as it doesn't belong to a team I hate. And we've got two records on the line, here. A potential six Superbowls for the Steelers versus 110 years of history and not one for the Cards? I am so totally going with the overdogs on this one ["overdogs": it's a word!].

#2. Game 16. Fuck you and the lazy-ass bullshit horse you rode in on.

And the #1 reason I'm all about the Steelers on this Pats-less afternoon?

Frenchy Fuqua

Go Steelers!